Skip to content
Interpreting the Evidence

Engraving of "The Surgeon" by Lucas van Leyden, 1524

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Colonial America (1630s - 1760)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    Colonial America

  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Engraving of "The Surgeon" by Lucas van Leyden, 1524 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Engraving of “The Surgeon” by Lucas van Leyden, 1524.
Historical Context
In 17th century New Netherlands, barber-surgeons practiced rudimentary forms of medicine that had developed throughout medieval times. The duties of a surgeon included simple tasks like cutting hair, shaving beards and removing lice. The more complex services included extracting teeth, setting bones, and repairing injuries. Surgeons spent a great deal of time leeching and lancing in an effort to prevent or fight infection.
Surgeons in the 17th century used rudimentary techniques to keep people alive in the face of unknown diseases and life-threatening injuries. People sought the help of surgeons for relief of infections, growths, and injuries. Without the presence of medical schools, future surgeons were trained through apprenticeships which began in their early teen years.
Essential Question
How did surgeons contribute to life in a Dutch colony?
Check for Understanding
Explain the role of the surgeon in the Dutch colony.